Fuller’s has battled through what it said were ‘strong headwinds’ in the first half of its financial year, turning over £209m in the 26 weeks ended 30 September 2017, up from £198m in the previous period.
The group’s chief executive, Simon Emeny, noted a tough period of trading and “unprecedented influences” on the business, especially for Fullers’ managed pubs which have been bitten by a 26% rise in business rates.
“I cannot remember a time when we have faced such an array of additional cost pressures. The pub sector is now responsible for 2.8% of the total business rates bill, despite only generating 0.5% of total turnover,” he said.
“Over and above this increase, we have met with rises in the Apprenticeship Levy and National Living Wage rates, but in spite of this, we have continued to grow.”
In the 33 weeks since 1 April 2017, like-for-like sales in Fuller’s managed pubs have risen 3.7%, while like for like profit in tenanted inns is up 2%.
Emeny added: “Although we have already faced and absorbed a number of prevailing headwinds, future economic and political uncertainty may still cause further challenges, however we are well-placed to face these.
“I am confident that our long-term vision, clear strategy and commitment to ongoing investment, delivering an outstanding customer experience throughout the business and creating an atmosphere in our pubs that cannot be rivalled at home, will ensure our further growth.”
During the last 26 weeks Fullers has sold 11 pubs and the group’s average EBITDA per pub grew 7%.
Fuller’s said it will continue to invest in its estate and has four managed sites in the pipeline.